Notice Regarding Union Security Agreements and Agency Fee Obligations
Many collective bargaining agreements negotiated by UWA and its affiliated Local Unions contain a “union security” clause stating that employees must become and remain members of the Union as a condition of employment. Employers and unions are authorized to negotiate these provisions under the National Labor Relations Act. Employees covered by such a clause will be informed of that fact. If you are covered by a union security clause, you may fulfill your “union security” obligations either by joining the Union, and thereby enjoying the full rights and benefits of Union membership; or you may choose not to become a Union member, and fulfill your financial obligations to the Union under the union security clause as an “agency fee payer.”
Employees who elect to become agency fee payers (that is, who choose not to become members of UWA or an affiliated Local Union) forfeit the right to enjoy the benefits available to Union members. Among the benefits available only to Union members are the rights to attend and participate in Union meetings; to run for Union office; to nominate and vote for candidates for Union office; to participate in contract ratification and strike votes; to participate in the development and formulation of Union policies; and to serve as a delegates to the Unions Convention.
Agency fee payers generally are charged the same dues and initiation fees uniformly required of Union members. However, under the UWA’s Policy on Agency Fee Objections, employees who are not Union members and who pay agency fees pursuant to a union security clause, may request a reduction in that fee based on their objection to certain kinds of Union expenditures. Under the UWA’s Policy, the agency fee payable by objectors will be based on expenditures for those activities or projects that are “germane to collective bargaining, contract administration, and grievance adjustment,” within the applicable United States Supreme Court and National Labor Relations Board decisions (See Communication Workers of Am. v. Beck, 487 U.S. 735 (1988)). Among these “chargeable” expenditures are those going for negotiations with employers; enforcing collective bargaining agreements; informal meetings with employer representatives; discussions of work-related issues with employees; handling employees’ work-related problems through the grievance procedure, administrative agencies or informal meetings; organizing employers that compete with employers that have contracts with the Union; Union administration; litigation and publications related to these chargeable expenditures.
Among the expenditures treated as “non-chargeable,” which objectors will not be required to support, are those going for community service (including participating in charitable events); legislative activities; cost of affiliation with non UWA organizations; support of political candidates; and public relations directed towards functional activities that are not considered germane to representing non-members in the collective bargaining
process; union publications to the extent they report on non-administrative or non-representational activities.
UWA’s Policy on Agency Fee Objections is the Union’s means of meeting its legal obligations to employees covered by union security clauses. Under this Policy, objections for the 2018 objection year which is the 12-month period beginning with April 1, 2019 and running through March 31, 2020 must be sent to the Union no later than June 30, 2019. To be timely, the objection must be postmarked no later than June 30, 2019. In addition, agency fee payers who are new to the bargaining unit or who have not previously received this notice may object within 30 days of receiving this notice or by June 30, 2019, whichever is later; and employees who resign Union membership may object within 30 days of becoming an agency fee payer or by June 30, 2019, whichever is later. All non-members who file timely objections will be charged only for chargeable expenditures for the 12-month period beginning with April 1, 2019 and running through March 31, 2020, or for new non-members, from the date of their timely objection through the remainder of the current objection year.
New bargaining unit members are to receive this notice prior to any demand being made upon them for the payment of agency fees. However, if, for any reason a new unit member begins paying agency fees prior to receipt of this notice, he or she may object retroactively to the commencement of such payments and for the duration of the current annual objection period.
Objections should be in writing and sent to Agency Fee Administrator, UWA, 367 Long Beach Road 147, Island Park, NY 11558. No special form is required to register an objection. However, the letter of objection should include the objector’s name, address, employer, and social security number.
Objectors will be given a full explanation of the basis for the reduced fee charged to them. The explanation will include a more detailed list of the categories of expenditures deemed to be “chargeable” and those deemed to be “non-chargeable,” and the independent certified public accountants’ report showing the Union’s expenditures upon which the fee is based. For the objection year beginning April 1, 2019, 3% of the Union’s expenditures will be non-chargeable. In addition to any other avenue of relief available under the law, objectors will have the option of challenging the Union’s calculation of the reduced fee before an impartial arbitrator appointed by the American Arbitration Association. Details of the method of making such a challenge and the rights accorded to those who do so will be provided to objectors along with the explanation of the fee calculation. Pending the arbitrator’s decision, the Union will hold in escrow a portion of the fees paid by the objector, in an amount sufficient to ensure that the portion of the fee reasonably in dispute will not be expended during the appeals procedure.